These next few blogs will be a series on the 4 A’s of Change. Acceptance, Attitude, Action and Adjustment. These are teachings that we explored at my workshop on February 22, 2020. As you read through this information, you may find it helpful to journal along the way. Ask your self these following questions:
1. What am I avoiding in my life and pretending to be okay, knowing deep inside that I am afraid to accept things as they are? I am keeping my head in the sand, just hoping life will change for me.
2. What am I genuinely happy about?
3. What is making me unhappy at this time?
4. What am I afraid to do differently and take positive action of change around?
Reasons to Move Toward Acceptance
Are you unhappy? Do you walk around complaining and seeing the negative in life and find yourself grumpy and unsettled by evening? Then do you toss and turn with worry?
Or maybe you would say that you are more happy than unhappy? Wow! You are one of the more fortunate people that dips into the light of the sunshine to see the optimistic hues of happiness. This is an opportunity for me to say to those of you that are more happy than unhappy, you did not get there without conscious work to train yourself to focus on the positive in your daily life. Congratulations on your hard work. But the truth is all of us can use a little more happiness in our daily life. The question is, “Are you willing to work for it?
The 4 A’s of Change: Acceptance, Attitude, Action and Adjustment, will guide you as you work toward it. The 4 A’s will act as a template to work with, regardless of your outer circumstances.
Here are a few thoughts to help you.
George Orwell tells us there is no happiness without Acceptance. How do we accept the reality of how things are in life and not become defeated? Defeat is an attitude that comes from depression, negativity and suppressed emotions. Defeat leads to despair. Despair leads to depression. Depression leads to despondency. Those are the four D’s of negative thought processes. It is a continuous cycle. Thus, learning to change your perspective is important as learn to lean toward the positive. The more positive you become, the more accepting you become and it is there you make your attitude work for you rather than against you. Let me give you a real life example.
Mothers are often the focus of psychotherapy. As a family systems specialist, it is my job to dissect your family history, build an extensive genogram and show you where your maladaptive patterns of adulthood originated. Mother’s came with no instructions at your birth and most mothers do the best the can. However, our needs as children are for connection, nurturance, care, and what we call in the field of psychology, attachment. I do not have the patience to write about attachment disorders, but you are welcome to google away. However, I will give you an example most of us can relate too.
A little boy around 8 or 9 is navigating his way into a big world of school, friends, siblings and responsibilities such as chores and home-work. It is a lot to master. However, in this family the little child already feels abandoned. When just a young tot, h was always told, “Get out of my way. Go do something.” When the tot tried to find something else to do he often made a mess of toys or tracked dirt in the house. He was yelled at and then reminded over and over again to be good, do it right, pay attention and leave me alone. He reports in therapy that he can’t really remember being bad. He just felt that his mother was always exasperated with him. His father was never around and when he was he didn’t pay any attention to him. Two other kids arrived on the scene and after that, mom was never available. He was given a book to look at, but not read too. TV was his best friend and sweets his salvation to feeling good. In fourth grade nothing made much sense to him. Homework was overwhelming and his answers, always wrong. He became marginalized on the playground and no one really wanted him on their team. Yes, by 9 his patterns were pretty much in place for the rest of his life. He learned to stay out of the line of fire, hide in the back-row and do what he could in his many lonely hours to just get by. He did get by. He graduated high school and went to work at the factory and felt numb most of the time.
He saw me because his wife of 10 years was threatening to leave with their child and he was feeling suicidal. Why bother was his biggest question. As we unraveled layers of childhood loneliness, lack of nurturance and care he began to see that in reality his childhood was not the happy childhood he reported to me in our intake session. As he did the hard work of Accepting the reality of how neglectful his childhood was he began to feel empowered. He could make different choices. He could create different options. He could quit hiding and learn tools to cope with his inadequacy until his attitude shifted from one of suicidal despair to an attitude of “I can.” He began to take positive actions and adjust his attitude when the struggles became too much. After quite some time of working together, he and his wife continued on to marital therapy and learned to let her in rather than keeping her out. He also learned that sometimes it was okay to negotiate with her to get his needs met. One thing that he clearly needed was time alone with his 8 year old son and five year old daughter. He was shy and felt inadequate about parenting. His wife was always around and consistently reminded him of how he wasn’t doing it right with the kids. Once he was able to use his voice and declare, “ I need to parent them by taking them with me to the mall or I want to be the soccer coach,” he developed skills that helped him feel competent as a parent and he was able to be present to his children in ways that his parents never were available to him. He broke the cycle of neglect and developed mastery in life skills. He was a delight to work with. It all began with the sincere Acceptance of the truth. His childhood was not a happy childhood. Only then could he do something different about it. What are you avoiding? How have you adapted your adult life to be replica of your childhood coping methods?
Now, that I have read this, what emotions are coming up? What am I feeling? Below is a finger labyrinth. Take a minute to trace the path into the center with your finger. Leave your pain there and as you trace the same path back out to exit, bring hope and and acceptance out with you.
This is a seven circuit classical Labyrinth